Cincinnati Bengals: Why the Team Should Focus on Offense in the 2012 NFL Draft

Tom BrewerCorrespondent IIJanuary 31, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Lamar Miller #6 of the Miami Hurricanes rushes during a game  against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As the 2012 NFL draft approaches, the Cincinnati Bengals must understand that while their defensive needs are important, their offensive needs are urgent.

Important items need to be handled soon. Haircuts are important. Buying new jeans when your old ones start to wear out is important. Planning your weekend is important.

Urgent items must be handled now. Avoiding the Suburban that just ran a red light is urgent. Finding the right gift on Christmas Eve is urgent. Being prepared for a sales meeting is urgent.

For the Bengals, bolstering the offense is urgent. Veteran guard Bobbie Williams is coming off of a trip to the Pro Bowl, but there is no guarantee he is coming back to the Bengals. The Cincinnati running game was more effective when Williams was on the field in 2011, as he opened holes in the middle for running backs Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott and helped young tackle Andre Smith in the trenches.

Even if Williams does return to the team, the Bengals need an insurance policy. Not only is he at an age when most players are calling it a career, but he ended the season on IR. Backup Mike McGlynn proved to be a liability in Williams’ absence.

If Stanford’s David DeCastro should fall into the team’s lap in the draft, team executives should race to the phone to make the pick. DeCastro is a versatile lineman accustomed to a pro-style offense.

Unfortunately, by the time the Bengals make their first pick, DeCastro is unlikely to be on the board. If that is the case, Cincinnati should select Cordy Glenn from Georgia. The Bengals love collecting enormous offensive linemen, and at 6’5” and 350 lbs, Glenn fits the bill.  

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver A.J. Green #8 (L) and offensive lineman Cordy Glenn #71 (R) of the Georgia Bulldogs congratulate Mohamed Massaquoi #1 after one of his three first half touchdowns during the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jac
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The Bengals have an urgent need at running back as well. Benson has publicized his displeasure with his role in the offense. Worse than that, he’s lost a step. His burst at the point of attack slowed at the midseason mark, and when the team needed him to shine in important AFC North games and in the playoffs, Benson shrank from the moment.

Lamar Miller from the University of Miami (Florida) seems to be a perfect fit for the Bengals as offensive coordinator Jay Gruden ushers the offense into the 21st century. Unlike Benson, Miller can catch the ball out of the backfield and has the ability to explode through the line of scrimmage. If Cincinnati selects Miller, expect the team to use him like the Ravens use Ray Rice.

Wide receiver is another position where the Bengals urgently need an upgrade. Jerome Simpson may not be available next season as he is facing marijuana trafficking charges, and Andre Caldwell is inconsistent at best. Jordan Shipley will be back and Andrew Hawkins earned more touches, but the Bengals need another receiver to complement AJ Green.

Opposing defenses eventually figured out that if they blanketed Green and kept Jermaine Gresham in check, the Bengals had no passing game. Another fast wideout who can stretch the field would do Cincinnati a world of good.

After the Texans drubbed them in the playoffs, it became clear the Bengals did not have the offensive firepower to compete with the NFL elite. While the team has defensive needs, this is not your father’s football; offense is king. To keep up with the rest of the league, the Bengals should look to strengthen the offense in the draft.

Focusing on the defense would be confusing what's important with what's urgent and would prevent a good team from becoming great.